Avoid sick and dead birds when out and about over the Summer
During the summer holidays, the HSE is reminding people not to handle or touch sick or dead wild birds or mammals in order to protect themselves from bird flu.
As avian influenza virus or “bird flu” outbreaks in birds and mammals are continuing during the summer months in Europe, causing deaths in sea-breeding bird colonies, including gulls, a wider exposure of the human population to sick or dead birds and mammals is expected to occur.
The spread of bird flu viruses to humans is rare. However, occasional human infections with bird flu cannot be ruled out. To date, no human-to-human spread of the bird flu virus has been reported to date.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) assessment of the risk of bird flu to the human population is considered low and the risk of infection for those occupationally or otherwise exposed to birds or mammals (wild or domesticated) infected with avian influenza is considered low-to-moderate. People at risk are mainly those in direct contact/handling diseased birds or poultry, or their carcasses (e.g. farmers, veterinarians and labourers involved in the culling and rendering), as well as those exposed to contaminated environments.
The HSE is advising people not to pick up or touch dead or sick wild birds, and to also keep domestic pets away from them. People should avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with bird faeces and should not handle bird feathers they find in the wild. It is always best practice in general, to regularly wash hands with soap and water or to clean your hands with alcohol-based hand gel when out in the wild.
Anyone who comes across dead or sick wild birds can notify the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine via the Avian Check App or call the Avian Influenza Helpline Number (076) 1064403 or 1850 2000456 (outside of normal office hours).